Island Paradise

Island Paradise

A true island paradise lies just off the Sunshine Coast in Queensland and is surrounded by mystical tales. Certainly, those surfers who have braved the rather sharky and treacherous 1 kilometer paddle out from the shore discovered a true surfing wonderland. Depending on the swell and wind conditions, the island can provide some of the best surfing available in the region. It works well from 2’ to 10’ and sometimes bigger in the right conditions. The left is a perfect barrelling point come reef break wave while the rights are more treacherous and ledgy.

Queensland's Mystery Island

The history of the island is full of legends, some true and some are tall tales. There were stories that Sean Connery (the 007 actor) owned and lived on the island in the 70’s with his then wife Dianne Cilento (a local girl). However, this was just a local tale. He in fact never even went to the island.

Queensland's Mystery Island

The early owner of the island was John Sewell (a retired pilot) who purchased the island in the 60’s and hand built a small stone cottage where he and his family spent a lot of time in their island paradise. I was fortunate enough to meet John in the mid 70’s just after he had decided to leave the island and was heading overseas on a new adventure. He asked us if we would keep an eye on his cabin for him while he was away travelling, as he knew we were regular surfers there. He took us for a tour of the island and his cabin and proudly shared his incredible knowledge of the island and its inhabitants. He even had a detailed hand drawn map of the island on one wall of the cabin, which meticulously mapped everything including the local wildlife habitats.

Island Paradise

In 1985 Peter Troy then bought the lease of the island as a surfing hideaway. Peter was one of the great surfing adventurers, travellers and a global ambassador of surfing and so the island was a fitting hideaway. Read our previous blog story about Peter here!

Island Paradise

The island gained some surfing cult fame in the 80’s when Jack McCoy produced a short video called “Kong’s Island” which featured Kong (Gary Elkerton) and his mates, Rabbit Bartholomew and Chappy Jennings.

Island Paradise

The island and the wide stretch of sea between it and the mainland have been notorious for sharks. My own personal “close encounter” with a shark happened here. In the late 70’s we met a very large Bronze Whaler shark who seriously tried to have us for dinner. Fortunately, one of our mates was on a large wooden surf ski and managed to get to us before something really nasty happened. However, the shark did come up from below and knocked us all back into the water again and caused a serious dose panic. The shark then followed just behind us all the way back to shore where the local camp ranger had seen the action and had already called the local Surf Life Savers from Maroochydore and the police and ambulance. Thankfully, we surfed safely to shore.

Queensland's Mystery island

Today the island is uninhabited and is now an Environmental Park. The surf still rolls in and sharks still keep a regular patrol. It is not a place for the inexperienced or faint hearted but is a true Island Paradise!





  1. Not bad Martin, I go over a bit to chase the surf or a snorkel and go onto the island a bit to survey John Blackwood Sewells amazing building handiwork.
    Shame the place is an eyesore now, rubbish, thorny weeds and muttonbird holes. Makes you appreciate what an amazing job John did to tame the place.

    • Yeah he really did an amazing job and he was so knowledgeable about the island and the nature there. He had an amazing detailed map he had drawn on one wall of the cottage showing where all his amenities were and also showing where all the different animal life was.

  2. I remember a guy who went to Marrochy High School ahead of me was attacked by a shark paddling over in the 1970’s. Tore one side of his his buttoch and hamstring. Nasty wounds.

    • Yeah I also remember that incident, from memory the media said it was at the mouth of Maroochy River but in fact was between the beach and the island.

  3. hi I have been diving and surfing the isl a nd since 1972 have about 200 +DIVES around it have surfed it in I think the 80s with Barry Coulter the right hander at a nice maybe 10ft for hrs by ourselves and have had many many paddles across from mudjimba with another old mate Huey Pass hope to hear from him again one day soon
    many 12ft plus tigers hammerhead grey nurse and the odd white have met me face to face deep down amongst the 6ft high worm columns on the se deep side love this place and sail out to it anytime I can in my catamaran maybe you have seen me there it is a very sacred island so please respect it and try to keep it clean Albie Curtis

    • Yeah 10′ on the right handers can be very challenging. The lefts are amazing on a big clean swell, one of the best waves in QLD. Yeah agree with you there please everyone be conscious of protecting the island and its beautiful nature. Unfortunately years ago it was visiting surfers who destroyed the beautiful cottage, it was so sad to see.

  4. In 88/89 I worked for the company that serviced the shark control equipment on the Sunny Coast and Roy, one of the owners, told me how he and his son Greg caught a huge White on the Yaroomba drumlines and were towing it by the tail back to Mooloolaba as it was well over the World Record at the time. They employed a 7.1m SharkCat and the shark was just a touch longer than the boat at the waterline. Unfortunately that same day the MV Kilkie was able to get over the Maroochy River Bar, which she did occasionally for trips around Old Woman Island and her engine died right on the outside point. She put out a ‘Mayday’ call and the boys bumped the engines up little by little to try and get to her before she went up on the rocks. They ended up pulling the tail off the shark, but they saved the Kilkie and her passengers.

    • This was after Kim McKenzie retired from the shark boats I guess. I seem to remember hearing about the giant White caught of Yaroomba. I’ve seen my share of large Noahs snorkeling and spearfishing around the Yaroomba Reeefs.

  5. So good hearing good stories. Have lived in Mudjimba for over 40 years and surf it regularly. Remember as a child when the hut was still perfect and all locked up. So sad to see it know, the muton birds have been there for as long as I can remember. The stories of sharks are plenty, Paddy just got a 4mt white off the drum lines out the front two weeks ago.

    • Those of us who lived there in the early years are truly some of the luckiest people alive! It was a real paradise!

  6. Surfed the Left once for about 3 hours after getting a ride out from the beach with some mates who launched from Molloolooba. They had to leave, but the surf was still firing, so I stayed. Eventually ended up deciding to paddle back, but then saw some blokes on the rights so surfed for another 2 hours. By the time I got back to shore, I had developed ‘sea legs’ and couldn’t walk up the beach with much grace.

    A few shark stories along the way too…